PIERRE, S.D. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has designated April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.
According to USDA, each year, harmful invasive plant pests and diseases cost the United States about $40 billion in crop losses, damage to forests and vulnerable ecosystems and expensive eradication and control efforts.
“People wonder if their individual actions really matter. The answer is yes,” said Dale Anderson, South Dakota Department of Agriculture plant quarantine specialist. “It only takes one person who moves one piece of infested firewood, one infected plant or one piece of infested fruit to spread these invasive pests to a new area.” (***Download Anderson audio here***)
Anderson advises that individuals take the following steps to keep invasive pests from spreading:
· Buy plants from reputable nurseries. Ask if they comply with federal and state quarantine restrictions to ensure their plants are pest-free.
· When traveling between states or to another country, check with a local USDA office before bringing back fruits, vegetables or plants.
· Don’t move untreated firewood. Instead, buy or responsibly gather firewood near the place it will be burned. Or, take certified, heat-treated firewood.
· Wash dirt and weed debris from boots, outdoor gear, vehicles and ATVs before traveling long distances to or from fishing, hunting, or camping trips.
· If relocating to a new home, clean lawn furniture and other outdoor items before placing them in a moving van or storage pod.
· Report any signs of invasive pests by going to www.HungryPests.com.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has several programs that deal with invasive pests. Visithttp://sdda.sd.gov/ag-